On the roster: Dear reporters: This is not about you - The Rulebook: Instruments of pleasure - Substitutions: Bannon pick roils transition - Dems decimated in Obama era - Tapped out
DEAR REPORTERS: THIS IS NOT ABOUT YOU
There has been more soul searching going on in the political press in the past six days than at a séance.
The self-centeredness of the media is so boundless that its members have even managed to make the election of Donald Trump about themselves.
Across the media spectrum, there has been much self-flagellation about the coverage of the 2016 campaign. Too biased? Not biased enough? Too many polls? Too few polls? Too few stories about working class whites? Too few stories about urban African Americans? And on and on and on.
People, get ahold of yourselves.
This is not about you. If you screwed up, do it better next time. If you did right, do it again. But please stop bellyaching about it. You cover events. Your coverage is not the event itself.
Once, it was considered a virtue for journalists to not make themselves the story. Now, even before the results have been recorded, reporters rush to analyze their own roles. That’s not to say that media criticism isn’t useful and appropriate – in its place.
Now, part of the reason for this crisis of confidence is that newsmen and newswomen who quietly (and sometimes less quietly) opposed Trump’s election are wondering what went wrong. The implicit question among these folks is what they could have done differently to stop him.
This gives rise to an almost equally pointless counter-obsession on the right over unfair coverage – even when their candidate wins. Your guy won. Cover the transition. Cover what’s next. Stop rolling around in the carcass of the mainstream press.
But another part of all this navel gazing is just pure hubris. In the days of waning clout for the news media, it is unsettling to consider the inability to drive an election narrative. It must be comforting, albeit in a perverse way, to hear from Trump and his supporters that reporters have the power to rig the system.
Your articles may be getting swamped by fake news on Facebook and you may be riding a rented bicycle to work, but, hey, at least you’re still part of the global elite!
This was an election. And not the most shocking upset in history. There will be more elections next year and the year after that. It just keeps happening. And a week is more than enough time to spend looking back at your own vapor trail.
Let’s get on with it.
THE RULEBOOK: INSTRUMENTS OF PLEASURE
“[The president] would be both ashamed and afraid to bring forward, for the most distinguished or lucrative stations, candidates who had no other merit than that of coming from the same State to which he particularly belonged, or of being in some way or other personally allied to him, or of possessing the necessary insignificance and pliancy to render them the obsequious instruments of his pleasure.” – Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 77
TIME OUT: SUPER-BADOOPER
Your Halftime Reporters noticed something a bit bigger and brighter about Earth’s lunar companion this morning and as it happens we weren’t mistaken. NPR: “Its official name is the perigee-syzygy, meaning the moon is both full and closest to Earth. But many call it the supermoon, and Monday’s version will be a ‘showstopper,’ NASA says. It’s the nearest supermoon in almost 70 years — and we won’t see another like it until 2034. ‘When a full moon makes its closest pass to Earth in its orbit it appears up to 14 percent bigger and 30 percent brighter, making it a supermoon,’ NASA says…. ‘Any time after sunset should be fine [said Noah Petro, deputy project scientist for NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter mission.] “Since the moon is full, it'll rise at nearly the same time as sunset, so I'd suggest that you head outside after sunset, or once it's dark and the moon is a bit higher in the sky.’”
Flag on the play? - Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM with your tips, comments or questions
SUBSTITUTIONS: BANNON PICK ROILS TRANSITION
NYT: “President-elect Donald J. Trump on Sunday chose Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee and a loyal campaign adviser, to be his White House chief of staff, turning to a Washington insider whose friendship with the House speaker, Paul D. Ryan, could help secure early legislative victories. In selecting Mr. Priebus, Mr. Trump passed over Stephen K. Bannon, a right-wing media provocateur. But the president-elect named Mr. Bannon his senior counselor and chief West Wing strategist, signaling an embrace of the fringe ideology long advanced by Mr. Bannon and of a continuing disdain for the Republican establishment. The dual appointments — with Mr. Bannon given top billing in the official announcement — instantly created rival centers of power in the Trump White House. Mr. Bannon’s selection demonstrated the power of grass-roots activists who backed Mr. Trump’s candidacy. Some of them have long traded in the conspiracy theories and sometimes racist messages of Breitbart News, the website that Mr. Bannon ran for much of the past decade.”
Left seizes opportunity - WaPo: “The announcement has produced intense hand-wringing in Washington and sharp denunciations from political observers and strategists critical of Breitbart News’s close association with the alt-right, a fringe conservative movement saturated with racially insensitive rhetoric and elements of outright white nationalism.”
Another former Goldman exec eyed for top Trump slot - Bloomberg: “Former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. partner Steven Mnuchin has been recommended by Donald Trump’s transition team to serve as Treasury secretary, according to two people familiar with the process, and the choice is awaiting the president-elect’s final decision. Mnuchin, the campaign’s national finance chairman, has been considered the leading candidate for the job. Trump has already displayed a pattern of loyalty to those closest to him during the campaign in early selections for administration jobs, and Mnuchin joined the campaign at a time when many from Wall Street stayed away.
Report: Trump mulling pro-wrestling magnate for Commerce - The Hill: “Donald Trump’s transition team is considering former WWE CEO Linda McMahon for the president-elect’s future secretary of Commerce, according to a new report. NBC Connecticut said Sunday it confirmed McMahon’s possible appointment with sources close to the former GOP Senate candidate and Trump’s transition staff.
Home turf - NYP: Ivana Trump wants her ex to make her ambassador to Czech Republic
TRUMP GAVES SHAPE TO BORDER WALL PLAN
Fox News: “President-elect Donald Trump, in his first television interview since his surprise election victory, repeated his vows to build a wall across America’s southern border, deport criminal illegal aliens, and repeal and replace ObamaCare. But Trump also appeared to back off from committing to build a solid wall, telling CBS’ “60 Minutes” the barrier might look more like a fence in spots. ‘Certain areas, a wall is more appropriate,’ Trump told interviewer Lesley Stahl. ‘I’m very good at this, it’s called construction.’ Trump emphasized that securing the border is his very first immigration priority, but he also promised to deport people living in the country illegally who had committed crimes beyond their immigration offenses.”
DEMS DECIMATED IN OBAMA ERA
WaPo’s Phillip Bump reveals trend lines of the blue team’s deep losses since 2008: “Think of a political party like an Army. To have effective generals, you need to bring leaders up through the ranks. If everyone keeps getting killed off on the first Tuesday after the first Monday of any given November, you're not going to be able to win many battles. The Democrats gained two Senate seats -- in a year that it was long assumed they would regain control of the chamber… We tend to focus on the loss of the presidency as the example of Democratic failure. That’s blinkered. Since 2008, by our estimates, the party has shed 870 legislators and leaders at the state and federal levels -- and that estimate may be on the low side. As Donald Trump might put it, that's decimation times 50.”
Could it happen to GOP? - David Drucker looks at how the Trump’s rise could sideline rising Republican stars.
DATA DIVE: HOW IT HAPPENED
In their final episode of “Perino & Stirewalt: I’ll Tell You What,” Chris Stirewalt and Dana Perino discuss how changes in voting patterns among two key demographics in the upper Midwest favored Donald Trump, assuring his victory on Election Day. WATCH HERE.
Is Trump fencing on border wall? - AP
Congress resets strategy for lame duck session after Trump win - WaPo
This was the first election in history when all states voted the same party for Senate and president. Harry Enten explains - FiveThirtyEight
Sanders says U.S. should “rethink” Electoral College – The Hill
Uber senator: Sasse takes the wheel for a day as an Uber driver - Buzzfeed
Buck stops here, literally: Trump vows to take $1 salary - The Hill
OTD: 110 years ago, Teddy Roosevelt embarks on the first foreign trip by a sitting president - The White House Historical Association
AUDIBLE: YOU GET AN ELECTORAL VOTE, AND YOU GET AN ELECTORAL VOTE…
“But frankly, you know, Democrats would be better off if they ran Oprah or Tom Hanks or -- why don’t we run beloved people? I mean, we have so many of them.” – Liberal polemicist Michael Moore in an appearance on CNN.
FROM THE BLEACHERS
“One of the things that disturbed me in this election cycle was the idea of ‘early voting’. In the past you had to have a valid reason for getting an absentee ballot. Now it seems you can just get a ballot without a reason that you cannot vote on Election Day. Therefore, you can't change your vote if you candidate does something stupid, or gets indicted. I believe it should return to only voting on election day. I am handicapped, and could have voted early however as a staunch believer in tradition I waited. Luckily, in the middle of the afternoon there were only three people in front of me, and I had a seat on my walker while waiting. If I can wait for election day, so can others.” – David Nelson, Bloomington, Minn.
[Ed. note: Well, first and foremost, Mr. Nelson, kudos to you for doing with challenges what half of those who walk unaided refuse to do. Secondly, one of the appeals of the idea of a federal Election Day holiday is that it would make easier the cause of those who seek to limit early voting.]
“Chris, I really enjoy your commentary. However, the intimation that a Trump loss would have resulted in anything like the organized temper tantrum and anarchy we are now seeing is not rooted in any reality or history. Just doesn’t happen, nor would it. Also, the idea that Trump should throw out a peace offering by extending significant positions to a Kelly Ayotte or a Jim Webb, is again not blessed with any sense of history or reality. You only have to go back to George Bush’s appointments after 2000 and the hand biting of democrats EVERY TIME they have been extended any fashion of an olive branch. Personally, I would suggest Trump remember what he promised, what gave success to his unlikely candidacy, seek counsel from groups like Heritage and undeniable compatriots and go forth with a large spoonful of castor oil for any in his way! Consolidating his gains will only result by being true to those that elected him and the prominent elements of his campaign promises.” – Michael D. Sumner, Miamisburg, Ohio
[Ed. note: Almost every modern administration includes at least one cabinet official from the other party. For Obama, it was Secretaries of Defense Robert Gates and Chuck Hagel and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. For George W. Bush it was Transportation Secretary Norm Minetta. For Bill Clinton it was Defense Secretary William Cohen. All three of those most recent crossover picks acquitted themselves honorably and with loyalty to their presidents.
But, to your point, Mr. Sumner, partisans who propelled a president to power are seldom understanding of the desire of a new president to accommodate the defeated party. To govern, Trump will have to do lots of business with Democrats, especially to advance legislation through the Senate. Olive branches in assembling an administration are helpful things.
Webb, who in his brief primary battle with Clinton, seemed to share much of Trump’s sentiment about military matters as well as the plight of the white working class, would be a particularly poignant pick.
Trump’s relative success or failure will depend in some significant part on the willingness of his supporters to allow him to be what he ran as: a person who values results over ideology. Trump made some specific promises to conservatives on things like Supreme Court picks and border security. But on most of the rest, he presented an ideological hodgepodge with an over-arching promise to do whatever would make America win. That’s the candidate who won Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania and the one who could be a popular president.
As for the conduct of Trump supporters in the event of a loss, I didn’t intimate that there would be riots in the street. But based on the candidate and his campaign’s claims of rigged voting, I don’t suppose that they would have been sending honeymoon bouquets to Clinton. Some small number might have even engaged in civil disobedience or, ahem, uncivil disobedience. But, in the main, the overwhelming majority of Republicans, as we are mostly seeing with Democrats now, would accept the outcome and wish the president-elect the best.]
“I find it interesting that there is a complete lack of comment regarding the Christian vote. I am certain that Christians turned out in mass and simply voted for CHANGE and that change could only be accomplished by Mr. Trump, an outsider. As indicated in a recent news quote by one of the countries spiritual leaders – God remains in charge.” – Donald Sutherland, Fairfield Glade, Tenn.
[Ed. note: Remember when the Republicans were called theocrats in the Bush era? You don’t hear that one anymore! But exit polls certainly bear out part of your argument, Mr. Sutherland. Trump won every category of self-described Christian – groups that, as in 2012, accounted for 75 percent of the electorate. What made the difference for Trump was that though slightly underperforming Mitt Romney with those who attend religious services weekly, he did far better with those who attend services more infrequently and, most electorally significantly, among Roman Catholics.
While the share of Catholics overall continues to dwindle, they are hugely important in the states in the upper Midwest that delivered the White House to Trump. Both Wisconsin and Pennsylvania boast substantially higher percentages of Catholics than the 23 percent of the national electorate.
And while Trump gave a little ground with the most observant Christians, he more than made up for it by rolling back Democratic advantages among those who attend church less frequently or are unchurched. Plus, Trump held the line among the growing share of non-believers in the electorate. Trump’s coalition, in that way, represents a broader base for the GOP and one less dependent on devout Christians than the one that carried George W. Bush to two terms. Bush lost among those voters who only occasionally attended church, while Trump won.
In an increasingly secular and irreligious culture, Trump’s appeal to those outside of the Christian faith could be political asset. Remember, the share of the electorate that identifies as Christian is down 5 points since Bush’s re-election and is forecast to decline more dramatically in the near future. Whether or not that is a good thing for the country and the culture is up to you to decide. But as a matter of electoral necessity, it helps Republicans to do better with nonbelievers.]
“Was reading the Friday Report, when I got a sudden irresistible craving for mushroom soup and French vanilla ice cream. Had to put you on hold and run to the store.” – Rebecca L. Baisch, Idaho Falls, Idaho
[Ed. note: Can you tell what’s on my mind? After eating my way through two weeks of pre-election junk food, though, it’s time for daddy to get back on the water wagon. See you at the salad bar…]
Share your color commentary: Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM and please make sure to include your name and hometown.
CBC: “A free beer allotment for retirees — which was part of the workers’ pension benefit package for more than five decades — will soon go flat. Labatt has announced the long-standing perk will be phased out by Jan.1, 2019 because it’s too expensive. But workers call the cut petty when compared to the company’s ballooning revenues…‘I just think it’s nickel-and-diming of our retirees that put in a lot of work for many, many years,’ said local union president Jim Stirr. ‘In the cost of doing business, it’s such a small, small thing.’… ‘The reason for the change relates to the rising overall cost of maintaining a full benefits package, including health care coverage for retirees,’ Labatt vice-president Lindsay King wrote in a letter to employees dated Oct. 28. ‘A recent comprehensive review of all the cost management options has led us to conclude that discontinuing free beer is the best course.’”
Chris Stirewalt is digital politics editor for Fox News. Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.
Chris Stirewalt joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in July of 2010 and serves as digital politics editor based in Washington, D.C. Additionally, he authors the daily "Fox News First" political news note and hosts "Power Play," a feature video series, on FoxNews.com. Stirewalt makes frequent appearances on the network, including "The Kelly File," "Special Report with Bret Baier," and "Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace." He also provides expert political analysis for Fox News coverage of state, congressional and presidential elections.